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ATHENS, Ohio -- Junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) made clutch plays on both sides of the diamond on Wednesday (April 11) night, but none were bigger than his walk-off home run in the 10th inning to propel the the Ohio baseball team (16-15) to a 6-5 victory over Shawnee State (12-20) at Bob Wren Stadium.
"It felt pretty good," said Rott of his home run. "They brought a new arm in, throwing underneath, working a slower rhythm. I was just trying to get something over the plate that I could do damage with. First pitch, I never like to sit around and wait too long."
The one-out solo home run went over the left field wall, marking Rott's team-high seventh homer of the season. He finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-6 with a single, a triple, a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored. Rott has now posted a team-high 14 multi-hit games and has tallied a team-high eight multi-RBI games.
"I'm glad he's one our team," said sixth-year head coach Rob Smith of Rott. "We had the right guy up at the right time when we needed it, and he did a great job not trying to do too much, really. With a pitcher like that, if you go up there and try to go pull side, he's going to get you out. He just stayed on the ball and did what you're supposed to do, and that's hit something hard the other way, and, luckily, it carried out of the park."
The Bobcats held a 5-1 advantage after six innings of play, but the Bears chipped away with runs in the seventh and eighth to make it a two-run ballgame going into the the ninth. Freshman pinch hitter Joseph Campos was hit by a pitch to lead things off, and junior shortstop Blake Marshall followed by drawing a walk. Both advanced 90 feet into scoring position when junior center fielder Christian Helton laid down a sacrifice bunt. Campos made it a one-run game when he scored on an RBI ground out to third by freshman second baseman Seth Clement. Shawnee State then evened the score when senior first baseman JT Boggs delivered a double to left center that drove in Marshall.
In the home half of the ninth, Ohio was able to load the bases thanks to a dropped third strike that put sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) on base, a pop-up infield single by senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) and a walk by freshman second baseman Treyben Funderburg (Beaver Creek, Ohio). The Bobcats were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, though, and the contest headed to extras.
In the tenth inning, freshman right-hander Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) steadied the ship for Ohio by striking out the side, setting the stage for Rott's heroics in the bottom half. Kutt earned the victory on the mound to improve to 2-1 on the year.
Wednesday's win saw Giannini break out with 4-for-5 hitting performance with a run scored to lead Ohio's bats. His four hits marked a season-high and gave him ninth multi-hit game of the year, which is tied for third on the squad. Sophomore catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.), who ranks second on the team with 11 multi-hit performances this season, went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.
"I definitely needed that just to get it going again," said Giannini of his big night, which broke a tough 0-for-20 stretch at the plate for him. "I knew once the first one came, it'd be all back to normal. I was watching video last night, just noticing that I was being real tight through that streak. I just went back to being loose and playing and having fun again."
Ohio redshirt freshman left-handed pitcher Cole Shinksy (Butler, Pa.) gave Ohio a solid start to the contest, throwing three scoreless innings. He struck out two while allowing just one hit and one walk in his third start of the season. Senior righty Logan Jacik (Omaha, Neb.) and freshman southpaw Brett Manis (Port Huron, Mich.) followed Shinsky by combining to toss two scoreless innings of relief.
The Bobcats' offensive attack started in the third inning when freshman designated hitter Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) reached on a Shawnee State fielding error. Two outs later, Levy scored the game's first run on a single to left by Piechnick.
Ohio struck again in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Giannini hit a leadoff single to start off the fourth. A double from Funderburg moved Giannini to third, and a single through the right side from Levy drove in the run to make it 2-0 in favor of the Bobcats.
In the fifth inning, Rott hit a leadoff, standup triple and scored a batter later when Hafner hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Bears got on the board in the ensuing frame when Helton beat out a leadoff single to third, stole second, moved to third on a base hit back up the middle by Clement and then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Boggs. Ohio added two more runs in the bottom half, though, with some two-out lightning. Junior center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) coaxed a two-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right by Rott. Rott then scored when Piechnick hit a double to left center.
Shawnee State scored runs in the seventh and eighth innings, however, to set the stage for the a ninth-inning comeback. Freshman pinch hitter Cameron Broughton singled down the right field line with one out in the seventh inning and crossed the plate three batters later off of a sacrifice fly to left field by Helton. The Bears struck again in the eighth inning when junior right fielder Levi Jones sent a one-out single through the left side and scored on an RBI single to left by freshman third baseman Danny McGuire.
Jones, Broughton and left field Chase Thurber each tallied two hits to lead Shawnee State at the plate.
Junior right-handed reliever Joe Loyd took the loss on the mound for the Bears, falling to 1-1 on the year. Senior right-hander Brady Knittel got the start on the mound for Shawnee State, throwing two scoreless innings. He struck out one while giving up three hits.
Bob Wren Stadium plays host to its second Mid-American Conference series of 2018 when Ohio welcomes Eastern Michigan (11-19, 5-4 MAC) to Athens for a three-game set this weekend (April 13-15).